Members of the House Republican Caucus outlined their 2015 agenda Monday at a press conference at the General Assembly Building in Richmond. Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford), Education Chairman Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), and Budget Chairman Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) discussed the Republican agenda to reform and improve K-12 education, make higher education more affordable, support Virginia’s veterans and balance the budget without raising taxes or fees while investing in the core functions of government. “House Republicans have put forward a governing agenda that will prepare Virginia for long-term success,” said Speaker Bill Howell. “Our agenda focuses on reform-minded policies that would give students additional pathways to succeed, make a college education more accessible and responsibly balance our budget without raising taxes. We also have an opportunity this session to help restore our citizens’ trust in government through serious ethics reforms, including a meaningful cap on gifts. These are all ideas that should get bipartisan support and that make Virginia a better place to live and work.”
“We have a chance this year to pass legislation that would significantly improve our public schools and give all Virginia students a better opportunity to succeed,” said Del. Steve Landes. “We based our ‘Classroom Success’ agenda on policy recommendations from teachers, parents, administrators and students, who all identified ways to improve our schools. These measures include supporting our teachers through professional development opportunities, additional flexibility from overly burdensome state mandates, and reforms to standardized testing that give students a better opportunity to succeed. This education agenda builds on our past efforts to give every Virginia student the tools they need to graduate college- or career-ready.”
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox said, “Students and families are paying more every year for higher education, only to find that too often there is not a good-paying job available after graduation that lets them begin paying off student loans. Virginia students now borrow more than $1 billion every year. We have put forward solutions to make college more affordable, including limits on unreasonable athletic fees and giving smaller and medium-sized schools additional flexibility to reduce costs. Del. Nick Rush has proposed a ‘flat-fee degree’ that would give Virginia colleges and universities an incentive to offer a lower cost degree option for high-demand fields. Long-term economic growth in Virginia requires a workforce that’s trained in skills they can put to use. The Republican higher education agenda will take big steps towards making that the case in the Commonwealth.”
“House Republicans will craft a balanced budget that will clearly and strategically focus our resources on keeping our promises to fund the core services of government," said Del. Chris Jones. “We will not make cuts to K-12 and higher education, which are part of our foundation for long term growth in the Commonwealth. The House will also continue our reforms in the Medicaid program while also meeting the needs of our most vulnerable citizens, specifically mental health reforms from last year and to continue meeting the needs of the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. At the same time, we will work to cut any wasteful spending and ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.”
Audio of the press conference is available upon request.